Who is afraid of Liam O’Flaherty?

WHO IS afraid of Liam O’Flaherty? The Irish government in the 1920s for one, banning several of the Aran Islander’s novels during this period.

One of O’Flaherty’s most controversial novels was Mr Gilhooley (1926 ) set in an urban, often impoverished, and violent Dublin. However the work was admired by the artist Harry Clarke, who selected O’Flaherty as one of 15 Irish writers, who would make up the eight panelled Geneva Window, commissioned by the Irish State.

Clarke illustrated a scene from Mr Gilhooley depicting a naked woman. This did not meet with government approval, with WT Cosgrave writing to Clarke about the portrayal of poverty, prostitution, dancing, drinking, and “scenes from certain authors as representative of Irish literature and culture [which] would give grave offence to many of our people”.

The Liam & Tom O’Flaherty Society will be discussing Mr Gilhooley at its next meeting on Saturday March 1 at 2.15pm in the Ballybane Library. All are welcome.


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